This week’s thought is written by Sharon Healy.
In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people… (Acts 2:17)
As a fifteen year old boy from Wales, George Jeffreys found Christ as Saviour during the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival. Five years after his conversion, George saw people expressing the gifts of the Spirit, and in particular, speaking in tongues. At first he was opposed to this, but noticed a radical change in his nephew who had been Baptised in the Holy Spirit. This led to George receiving a mighty Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and being commissioned to preach the gospel. Over the following years George saw tens of thousands come to faith in Christ. Everywhere George went there was a mighty outpouring of Pentecostal power, with miraculous signs and wonders following the preaching of God’s Word.
In 1940, thirty-five years after George’s conversion, a young German boy by the name of Reinhard Bonnke was born. As the son of a Pastor, he found Christ as Saviour at the age of nine. One year later, aged only ten, he sensed a call from God to serve as a missionary in Africa.
In his late teens, Reinhard left Germany to attend Swansea Bible College in Wales. In one meeting, the president of the college spoke from his personal experience on how God answered prayer. Bonnke was so inspired by the president’s personal testimony that he later told how he had prayed, "Lord, I also want to be a man of faith. I want to see your way of providing for needs." Little did Reinhard know that God would answer his prayer in a phenomenal way!
At the end of his studies, aged 21, Reinhard set off back to Germany. Arriving in London, he found himself with a number of hours free before his train departed.
He decided to take a walk and found himself wandering around the streets of Clapham. At a certain street corner, behind a wooden fence, Reinhard suddenly noticed the name on a house door, 'George Jeffreys'. Reinhard had just read a book by George Jeffreys and couldn’t believe that he had stumbled on the very home of this mighty man of God.
Reinhard himself recounted what happened next, “Eagerly I ventured through the gate and up the path, ringing the doorbell. A lady appeared and I asked, 'Is this the George Jeffreys whom God used so mightily? She affirmed it was so, to my great delight. I asked, hopefully, "Could I please see Mr Jeffreys? The reply was firm. “No, that is not possible”. But then that deep, musical Welsh voice, that is said to have held thousands spellbound with its authority, spoke from inside. “Let him come in.” Thrilled, I entered, and there he was. He was seventy-two, but looked to me like a man of ninety. “What do you want?” were his words to me. I introduced myself, and then we talked about the work of God. Suddenly, the great man fell on his knees, pulling me down with him, and started to bless me. The power of the Holy Spirit entered that room. The anointing began to flow, and, like Aaron's oil, seemed to run over my head and down to the skirts of my robes', so to speak. I left that house dazed. Four weeks later, like Elijah, George Jeffreys had been translated to glory. I had been led to see him just before he died. But I knew that I had picked up something from this former Holy Spirit, fire-brand evangelist. The Lord, I am sure, had arranged that meeting. How else would it have been possible for me to stumble upon this one house in a city of ten million people, when George Jeffreys was not even on my mind?“
After seven years of pastoring a church in Germany, Reinhard eventually landed in Africa in 1967. His work began with small evangelistic meetings, with sometimes only five people gathering. Over the years this grew to meetings being held across the whole continent of Africa. It is estimated that over 79 million people were converted to Christ as a result of Bonnke's ministry, with millions also receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirt. He has been called a "giant and a general in the Army of God”.
It’s incredible to see the effect the Welsh Revival had on lives like George Jeffreys. A young boy saved and set alight by God, who went on to bring the Pentecostal message publicly to the people of Britain. Through this young man who had surrendered all to Jesus, cities were shaken, and tens of thousands witnessed the mighty power of God. And through Reinhard’s life, the river of fire continued to flow to countless others in a succeeding generation.
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